A Conversation with Friends about Adoption and Multiracial Families

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Listen To Your Mother, Mike Washington Photography

Listen To Your Mother, Mike Washington Photography

It has been quite a while since I have posted. I have been busy with “projects”—producing and directing Listen To Your Mother, preparing for and presenting at a national conference, preparing for an international summit on motherhood and mindfulness, and working on my new book, Writing to Heal Adoption Grief: Making Connections & Moving Forward.

I had a lovely patio-dinner with several close girlfriends the other night. We are an international bunch. Our 16-year-olds daughters, also at the same restaurant and dining inside immersed in their own chick-time, are even more so. Our girls are adopted and non-adopted, represent four cultures and three continents; between them they speak six languages. They date young men who do not resemble them physically. They are compassionate, empathetic and open, and this is what our mom-conversation centered around.

Eventually our conversation zeroed-in on our families and how we are perceived. My friends have known my family and me for a long time, however they were somewhat surprised about what we continue to encounter from those who don’t know us well, or at all. The gist of it is:

We take it for granted that others outside of family and friends “see” those invisible threads and how we interconnect and transect. We forget that, sometimes, others can not get past the fact that a family comprised of whites, Hispanics/Latinos and Asians is unusual—until we are reminded by one of those “why don’t you take a picture” looks, an intrusive comment or question.

Such is the territory of transracial and multiracial families. Conspicuous families. Complex blended families.

What adults and children question and comment on unifies us because we are compelled to examine why those questions and comments arise and how we feel and can address them. We talk and share, over and over again, the remarkable stories that are part of us, as individuals and as a family.

Sometimes we fail to see how much we do differ when with each other. We dwell deeper, seeking and recognizing the human essence encased within the skin and features of the children and adults we know, love and respect. Despite our differences we are far more alike than not.

Being in the position of having to validate the legitimacy, the “ties,” of our family on a regular basis provides the opportunity to claim our children and each other over and over again. My four kiddos have become very adept at handling the questions, comments and looks.

I awoke this morning, thinking more on our conversation last evening. I know this:

We are family—a husband and wife, mom and dad, sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters. Sometimes we forget that we do not have solely biological “ties” within our family. The facts of “born into” and “adopted into” become blurred. However, how we came together is important and is part of our incredible personal stories and rich family story and culture, which we are immensely proud of.

For Discussion: Have you had a similar conversation with close friends or family members? What was their reaction?

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